This Power Rangers Ninja Steel review contains spoilers.
Power Rangers Ninja Steel Episode 8
This episode represents the end of an era for Power Rangers.
At the time of this writing, the big budget Power Rangers movie will be released next week. From all the trailers and early buzz, the movie sounds amazing. It looks faithful to the original series while still being aimed at an older audience. If the movie proves a hit with fans, it could mean something that most Power Rangers fans haven’t thought about.
That Power Rangers on TV is no longer for them.
Consider it for a moment. For many years the series seemed to be serving two masters and I don’t mean in a corporate sense. Dino Thunder was made so kids could enjoy it but it was clearly a love letter to the fans. SPD was heavily promoted to an older demographic with it stars showing up at conventions. RPM featured small winks and nods to the fandom. Even the much-derided Super Megaforce contained elements for the fans.
In its eight episodes before it goes off for a five-month hiatus, Ninja Steel has made no effort to appeal to the adult fanbase. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, Power Rangers has always been a show meant for children. The fact that it manages to court adult fans and put on a convention tailored to them is more of a nice bonus than anything intentional by its producers.
Tony Oliver, the original creator of Power Rangers, has said many of Power Rangers earliest adult fans were “frankly obnoxious.” Why wouldn’t they be? Asking for a kids TV to cater to adults would be obnoxious. To this day that continues. Some fans continually rally for Power Rangers to take itself more seriously. To incorporate more of it’s past continuity. To be more for them.
Now they have not only the movie but also the Boom! Studios comic, which just recently featured Lokar from MMPR fighting against the Alien Rangers and Phantom Ranger in a post apocalyptic alternate universe.
To put it bluntly, Power Rangers on TV no longer has to even think about adult fans. They’ve got a potential movie franchise and comics to keep them happy. The show can now happily be made for the four year olds it’s meant for without giving one thought to it’s adult fan base. Sure, maybe Super Ninja Steel will have some cameos but by and large Power Rangers on TV seems to be done with its adult fans.
That isn’t to say adults still can’t enjoy Ninja Steel for what it is. Many do, but now it doesn’t have to worry about them. It can point to the movie or comic and say, “that’s for you. Leave us alone and let us tell wacky one and done adventures that don’t have to reference past seasons.”
The problem is that the stories just aren’t very good. I could honestly accept a Power Rangers season that is being made exclusively for kids if the stories were better constructed. This episode features way too many gaps in logic. You can’t just use “made for kids” as an excuse for poor pacing and plot development.
Ninja Steel brazenly slips over any part of the plot that could lead to good stories. In this episode Levi doesn’t seem all that effected by being kidnapped for what looked like a month. Why isn’t this explored? Even if the show is meant for five year olds you can do something about fear.
Hell, why is the plot once again recycling plot beats from Dino Charge? Much like Ivan, Levi was held captive and had to be freed from monster control. Do the people behind the show just assume they can rinse and repeat these plots? Is it because the turnover rate of kids watching this show is about two years? Maybe.
Levi isn’t a bad character but his introduction is paced so strangely. He showed up at the end of last episode but then we jump several weeks in the timeline where I guess there was a cool mystery about who he is. Again, skipping over potentially engaging plots. Now we get a country star who we haven’t heard of before (they couldn’t have played one of his songs at the school dance?) That’s okay I guess but this is certainly near the bottom of sixth Ranger introductions.
When one thinks about Ninja Steel being for five year olds, the way the Rangers and everyone in town laugh at Victor as he flies to his doom is… uncomfortable. If this show is meant for five year olds and no one can ever have any real conflict, why aren’t they trying to help them?
As much as Power Rangers on TV is now trying to cater itself exclusively to kids without any thought of its adult fanbase, it can’t even seem to get that right.
The one redeeming part of this episode is Levi appreciating Brody for not treating him like a crazed fan. There’s great potential for stories about the perils of fame and how it’s affected Levi’s life. That I’m interested in and I’ll be doubly in for it if we get to hear him sing. Yeah, it’s ludicrous that nearly all the Rangers love a country singer but if we get some singing out of it I might be okay.
Maybe there is some fun to be had when Ninja Steel returns from its hiatus in about five months. Maybe, after the movie comes out, our expectations for the season won’t be so high. Maybe we’ll be able to accept it for what it is. Maybe we’ll be able to ignore all the wasted potential and poorly constructed plots.
Or maybe we’ll have moved on. Only time will tell.
One thing’s for sure. When we come back? Everything will be different.
– Oh my god Victor and Monty making fun of a child kills me.
– “It’s from the Lion galaxy.” …..Cool story, bro.
– “Booo, she’s tiny!” Seriously, Victor and Monty for MVP’s of this season.
Shamus Kelley must give a fond RIP to the Burger Morpher. We never knew you. Follow him on Twitter!